Religious Individualization among Muslims in the Netherlands and Belgium: An Analysis of Theoretical Approaches
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This thesis critically analyses theoretical approaches of various social scientific scholars within different sub-disciplines on religious individualization among Muslims in the Netherlands and Belgium. Based upon pluralist epistemological perspectives I argued that, by critically assessing and comparing different studies on the same subject, our understanding of that subject can be enhanced, individual limitations can be overcome, and new research questions can be formulated for future research. Nadia Fadil proposed a reading of religious individualization as a form of liberal governmentality, which results in a set of techniques that regulates (religious) ethical positioning in relation to power structures. I have enriched her insights by relating it to complementary insights in the social scientific field of study on religiosity and religious individualization among Muslims in the Netherlands. I suggested that Fadil’s approach can be enriched by giving attention to the manner in which social identities, cognitive mechanisms, and social contexts inform and influence the self, ethical subjectivation and religious conduct. Her propositions on power relations can be enriched by considering the manner in which an internalized understanding of power systems develops, assessing how childhood socialization, cultural bonds, identity politics and repertoires can be of importance to this, determining different types of authority structures and unfold their influence structurally. The precise interrelation between power structures and the self and their influence on ethical substance and religious conduct can be resolved more comprehensively in future studies. Likewise, future theoretical approaches to religious individualization can incorporate the abovementioned insights.